By: Anthony Q. Jiffan, Jr.
The Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Mogana Flomo, has attributed the poor performance of the agriculture sector of the country to a number of inadequacies including weak policy, poor business environment for agriculture, inadequate infrastructure, low agriculture research program and limited technicians amongst others.
Dr. Flomo also named weak private sector participation into agricultural activities as one of the factors responsible for the underperformance of the sector.
He made the assertions at the Ministry of Information, Culture Affairs and Tourism on Thursday, January 10, 2019 in Monrovia.
Dr. Flomo said to address these problems, the Ministry of Agriculture has set-up a plan which comprises various components.
Titled “Liberia Agriculture Sector Plan,” the first component he said is food and nutrition security, competitive valued chain development, agriculture extension research and development, sustainable production of natural resource management and governance, and institutional strengthening.
Since 2015, Dr. Flomo said the Ministry of Agriculture had been dealing with 2018 population Census of Liberia; but he added that studies have shown that the population has grown up to about 4.9 million people up to 2018. Of this number about 70 percent are farmers who survive on faming.
He indicated that the Ministry of Agriculture has 52 agriculture extension officers, and 15 counties officers making them a total of 67 officers.
This number he said, do not meet international standard and revealed that one extension officer in Liberia is to 67,335 farmers as a ratio. He added that if the situation continues, the agriculture sector will make no progress in food production and other agricultural activities.
Dr. Flomo disclosed that the World Bank standard says, Liberia must have one extension worker to 800 farmers in order for effective work to be done in the agriculture sector.
He said as a way of addressing the situation, there is a need for the country to improve extension services, employ more young people who have studied agriculture and are practically doing nothing.
Other remedies, the minister highlighted, include seeking funding by to support irrigation and agriculture input and increase in capacity building for the number of extension workers in the sector.